Writing and other masochistic tendencies…

November 5, 2009

I’ve been writing forever.  I know that sounds like hyperbole, but, really, it isn’t.  At least, it isn’t hyperbole to me.

I took up writing for pleasure as a tween, although we weren’t called “tweens” back then; we were plain, old adolescents.  I was published the first time in the Atlantic Quarterly when I was 16 years old.  I have no idea what I submitted for publication, but I suspect it was a piece of the maudlin, appropriately angst-riddled teenage poetry I was pumping out at a rate that probably should have alarmed my parents.

My next taste of success came when I was 17, when Highlights for Children magazine published one of my poems.  As I recall, it was a masterpiece of iambic pentameter; the subject was horses, or ponies, or some other animal of the equine persuasion. 

I was the activities editor for my high school’s newsletter and yearbook.  I was submitting poetry and short stories to any and all markets at a frantic pace.  I journaled.  I filled dozens of pages of college-rule notebook paper with my literary meanderings.  So of course when it came time to attend college, I picked the most appropriate major for myself:  Fine Art.  You can stop laughing any time.

Life went on as it always does, whether we’re prepared for it or not, and an artistically-challenged Art major has to pay the bills just like everyone else.  I became a flight attendant for Delta Airlines, then a ticket agent.  When I grew tired of wearing navy blue polyester, I became a travel agent and a tour escort.   I got married and had a son, followed by the inevitable divorce and the inevitable remarriage.  And the inevitable second divorce, and the inevitable third marriage.  And the inevitable third divorce.  Through it all, I never stopped writing.   I wrote for several travel publications:  Sunset Magazine, TravelAge West, TravelAge East.  Most of my articles were non-fiction, naturally, but I found that I had a gift for the occasional piece of satire also.  TravelAge West loved my satire.  The money I earned as a stringer for that publication kept me in pantyhose for most of the 1980s.

The 90s were upon me before I knew it.  I was out of the travel industry and working long hours as a human resources manager in a variety of industries.  As a single working mom, I was always looking for ways to earn extra money, and so I prostituted myself to Penthouse and LFP (Larry Flynt Publications, i.e. Hustler Magazine).  I wrote dozens, perhaps even close to one hundred “letters”.  You know the ones I’m talking about – those letters that begin with, “Dear Penthouse/Hustler, I never thought that something like this could happen to an ordinary guy like me, but…”   Well, things like that do not happen to ordinary guys.  Things like that are written by women and men who, like me, have a gift for erotica, very little sense of shame, and an urgent need for the $25 per letter income we received for our exertions.  Of course, I had to give up that genre as my son matured and I began to find Penthouse magazines in his room.

Here I am now, and it’s almost the end of yet another decade.  (I told you that I’ve been writing forever, didn’t I?)  The son is grown, the dog requires and desires far less attention than I have to bestow, and so I’ve returned to writing with renewed vigor.  As I type this, I have several fiction shorts out in the submittal process and, of course, high hopes for them all.  I’ve just written my second novel.  I’m no Nicholas Sparks; my first novel sucked, but my second novel is brilliant, if you don’t mind me saying.  It’s a lively and entertaining young adult novel under the working title of “The Glendale Witch”.  Look for it on shelves next year; the movie will be appearing in theaters shortly thereafter.

Yes, I’m optimistic.  It’s part of – or perhaps the only component of – my charm.  I cling to optimism like it’s my life support.   I don’t want to regress to writing maudlin, angst-riddled poetry in my old age, therefore I must grip hope with both hands.

No one said it would be easy, but no one said it has to be all that damned hard, either.  All I know is that, easy or hard, I love to write – I need to write – I will always write.

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4 Responses to “Writing and other masochistic tendencies…”

  1. Rymshot Says:

    Congrats on making this decision. As someone who has written most of my life, mostly for myself, I admire anyone who pays attention to that muse and goes for it. My advice……..make sure it’s fun for you. I mostly wrote to entertain myself. The frosting on the cake was publishing or posting my stuff and getting a flood of kudos and admiration. I also got a ration of criticism, some of it quite helpful, most of it mean and spiteful. As a writer I know you’ve developed a pretty thick skin. With confidence comes conviction and with conviction comes the ability to take chances. I took some of those adult ed writing courses and found the level of literacy in the aspiring writing community to be discouraging. Take criticism from those who could hardly put 4 words together in a sentence was not easy to take. What I did take away from that experience was the knowledge that there are a lot of bad writers out there who have nothing to say and a lot of really talented writers who need to practice this craft every day to maximize that talent. My last bit of advice. Write something every day, keep a journal, find a bitch forum howl at the moon. Keep those chops sharp and never never ever give up that desire to write.

  2. susan Says:

    this sound trite, but YOU GO GIRL!!!!

  3. Grace Says:

    Debi, this is writer of supreme talent. Your use of humor intermingled throughout keeps the writer very interested and amused but hungry for the next line written. I am very impressed and happy that you are writing again. It would be a waste of an obvious creative talent which you were born with. Thank you for steering me to this page. I enjoyed it immensely.

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